Oct. 6, 2004
Notre Dame freshmen Natalie Burke (Cape Town, South Africa/Reddam House College) of South Africa and Andrew MacKay (Georgetown, Grand Cayman/Cayman Prep H.S.) of the Cayman Islands will head to Indianapolis, Ind., this week to take part in the FINA World Swimming Championships, slated for Thursday-Monday, Oct. 7-11, in a brand-new facility inside the Conseco Fieldhouse. Burke will swim the two sprint breaststroke events, while MacKay will be busy, taking part in six races (50, 100 back; 100 fly; 100, 200, 400 IM). The duo comprises the first Irish swimmers ever to compete in the World Championships, the largest and most prestigious international swimming event this year other than the Olympic Games.
ESPN2 will feature extensive coverage of the World Swimming Championships, showing a total of 11.5 hours of competition, mostly on a same-day, tape-delayed basis. The television schedule is as follows: Thursday – 10 p.m.-Midnight (EDT), 9-11 p.m. in South Bend; Friday (actually early Saturday) – 1-3 a.m. (EDT), Midnight-2 a.m. in South Bend; Saturday – 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (EDT), 9-11:30 p.m. in South Bend; Sunday – 9:30 p.m.-Midnight (EDT), 8:30-11 p.m. in South Bend; Monday – live coverage, 8-10:30 p.m. (EDT), 7-9:30 p.m. in South Bend.
The World Championships will get underway on Thursday morning, when both Irish competitors will be in action. Burke, seeded 19th out of 39 swimmers with a qualifying time of 32.91, will take part in the 50-meter breaststroke, the first women’s event of the meet. MacKay will swim both the 100-meter backstroke (seeded 24th of 46 with a time of 56.80) and the 100 butterfly (38th of 69, 56.77). The top 16 in each of those races will advance to Thursday evening’s semifinals, and the top eight will qualify for the final, slated for Friday evening.
Friday will also feature the men’s 400 individual medley, an event in which MacKay finished 33rd in last summer’s Olympic Games in Athens, Greece (though the Olympics were contested in a 50-meter pool and the world championships will be swum in a 25-meter pool). MacKay is seeded 23rd of 33 qualifiers with a time of 4:26.33. The top eight from prelims will swim in the final on Friday evening.
On Saturday, Burke will swim the 100-meter breaststroke (19th of 44, 1:10.55), while MacKay will compete in the 50 backstroke (23rd of 45, 26.85) and the 200 IM (31st of 49, 2:06.85). The individual medley final will be that evening, while the two shorter races will feature a pair of semifinal heats on Friday before their finals on Sunday. MacKay took 41st in the Athens Olympics in the 200 IM, recording the fastest reaction time by any non-backstroker (0.59 seconds) in the entire meet.
MacKay will swim in the 100-meter individual medley (30th of 56, 1:00.20) on Sunday morning, and the top 16 will advance to the semifinals that night. The 100 IM final will be contested Monday evening.
Single-session, single-day and all-session tickets are still available and are on sale through Ticketmaster. Tickets can be purchased for as low as $10 at www.ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster charge-by-phone (1/317-239-5151 locally) or the Conseco Fieldhouse Box Office.
Burke is the reigning South African national champion in the 50- and 100-meter breaststroke, and she narrowly missed a berth in the Olympic Games. She was a member of the South Africa national junior swim team in 2001-02 and also played water polo and hockey in high school. Burke was undefeated in swimming in her final year of prep action, winning titles at every level of competition.
MacKay, the first Olympian in Irish men’s swimming and diving history, was the first-ever Olympic swimming qualifier for his native Cayman Islands, a Caribbean island nation that has been hit hard by the recent spate of hurricanes in the region. In short-course meters, he holds the Cayman national records in all backstroke and breaststroke events, as well as in the 200 IM. He is coached by former U.S. great Dave Kelsheimer. In the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona, Mackay, 17 years old at the time, registered the fastest start reaction time (.63 seconds) in the entire 78-swimmer field in the 200 IM (he finished 48th).
Burke began her collegiate career last Friday by being the only person to be on three victorious relays in the Dennis Stark Relays, swimming her strongest stroke in the 400-yard breaststroke relay (1:06.41 leadoff split time) and both the 200 and 400 medley relays . She also touched the wall three seconds ahead of the rest of the field in the 200-yard breaststroke against Evansville with a time of 2:22.71, though she was swimming as an exhibition competitor.
MacKay also was impressive in his collegiate debut, as he finished first by nearly 2.5 seconds (1:54.26) in the 200-yard individual medley in his first swim for Notre Dame. He came back in the evening to lead off the victorious 400 medley relay with a 53.53 leadoff split for his backstroke leg.
This weekend meet marks the first time the FINA World Swimming Championships will take place in the United States. A 25-meter, 300,000-gallon, competition pool and a 175,000-gallon, warm-up pool have been built in the facility that is home to the National Basketball Association’s Indiana Pacers.
The World Swimming Championships, now 10 years old, will once again feature a field dotted with the top names in the history of the sport. Among the stars taking part in this year’s event will be eight-time Athens medalist (including six golds) Michael Phelps, three-time gold medalist backstroker Aaron Peirsol, Olympic 200 breaststroke champion Amanda Beard, and double Athens winner Yana Klochkova of the Ukraine (200 IM, 400 IM).
For more information on the FINA World Swimming Championships, see www.worldswim2004.org. Complete results of the meet will be available at www.omegatiming.com.